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Fossett fuel fears

Record attempt loses juice

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Steve Fossett has given a first conference from aboard his record-chasing aircraft. He told assembled reporters, via webcam, that he was now enjoying the ride, despite technical problems.

GlobalFlyer's leakage problem appears to have resurfaced, with 750lbs of jet fuel lost in the first four hours of flight. Lead engineer Jon Karlow expressed concerns: “There is very little to no margin to get to [the planned landing spot in] Kent.”

Such worries were later played down though, with Karlow saying: "I think we're at the point where it isn't an issue now."

As well as the fuel issue, lighter than expected tailwinds have left Fossett as much as 4,000 nautical miles behind his expected position as he crosses South-East Asian airspace this evening. Mission controllers are now urging Fossett to slow down in order to conserve fuel.

Flight engineer Clint Nichols said: "He hasn't been able to fly as slowly as I would like him to and everytime I call I say go slower."

Fossett also told of how during take off cockpit temperatures reached a sweaty 54°C, sending instruments temporarily haywire. Now cooled off, 61-year-old Fossett is apparently "enjoying the view".®

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